Prostitutes lured to their deaths?

DETECTIVES embroiled in one of Britain's biggest-ever manhunts admit it is possible the killer or killers arranged to meet their latest vice girl victims over the telephone.

By Danielle Nuttall

DETECTIVES embroiled in one of Britain's biggest-ever manhunts admit it is possible the killer or killers arranged to meet their latest vice girl victims over the telephone.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull, who is overseeing the largest police investigation in Suffolk's history, said officers still had no idea where and when all of the young women were abducted.

And when asked how the killer could have struck with such a high police presence following the discovery of Gemma Adams' and Tania Nicol's bodies, he said it was possible the perpetrator arranged to meet the latest victims in private, away from Ipswich's red light district.

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His comments came as Prime Minister Tony Blair voiced his support for the Suffolk force and the News of the World newspaper offered a £250,000 reward - believed to be the largest ever.

Det Ch Supt Gull, Suffolk Constabulary's head of crime management, said: “We have had policing reassurance for a number of weeks.

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“I do know a number of prostitutes do operate off the street - it may be they have arranged to meet a client via a phone and met them away from the red light district,” he said.

“We have not found murder scenes. What we are dealing with is deposition sites. This is where the bodies have been dumped and left. Currently we are looking for murder scenes.

“We are keeping an open mind as to where they have been abducted. It's not safe to go with punters on the street or off the street.”

Last night police were believed to be investigating whether a handbag found in Norwich Road, Ipswich - only 200 yards from where a pair of trainers possibly belonging to Miss Adams were discovered - and a leather jacket washed up on the Shotley shoreline could be connected to the inquiry.

The identities of the two women discovered naked and 150metres apart on open ground in Levington on Monday have not yet been confirmed, however police still fear they are those of missing prostitutes Annette Nicholls, 29, and Paula Clennell, 24.

The bodies were discovered just two days after the naked body of Anneli Alderton, 24, from Colchester, was found in woodland in Nacton. She had been strangled.

Det Ch Supt Gull said the area the latest two bodies had been found had not been searched when Miss Alderton had been discovered.

“That area was not searched. We were concentrating on the area of Nacton. This latest find was about a mile away,” he said.

And when asked whether the killer or killers had been careless dumping the two Levington bodies close to the road, he said it was possible.

“We could draw a number of conclusions,” he added.

Last night one of the bodies was removed from the scene and taken to Ipswich Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

During a police press conference yesterday, police revealed they had received 2,199 calls from members of the public between 6am and 11pm on Tuesday - in addition to the 500 received on Monday.

Detectives also said more than 30 officers from forces across the eastern region had been drafted in to work on the inquiry and more were being sent through a national mutual aid agreement. These include enquiry team officers, HOLMES indexers, document readers and exhibit officers.

Det Ch Supt Gull said intelligence officers were working 24-7 to process the calls that had already been made.

“We have to be optimistic. We have to be confident. We are pursing a number of interesting lines of enquiry,” he said.

“Suffolk police is determined to find the person or persons responsible.”

The police chief said officers were already building up an intelligence picture of punters and kerb-crawlers.

“A lot of punters and kerb-crawlers are anonymous, with no names. Some of them are known to us others are not,” he said.

“We will identify them. If they have been in Ipswich's red light district and have information they need to contact us before we contact them.”

Det Ch Supt Gull said detectives had been “overwhelmed emotionally” by the scale of what they were dealing with.

“I was in a meeting with chief officers at 3pm yesterday where we were dealing with the murders of Tania and Gemma and Anneli,” he said.

“I had made significant appeals yesterday and the day prior to that for Paula and Annette. We heard this breaking news (the discovery of two more bodies) and there was stunned silence. Tragic and desperate news.

“We are overwhelmed emotionally. These are tragic circumstances, whatever people might think of prostitutes and street workers, these are young girls here.

“The tragic events have clearly overwhelmed us both in terms of our capability and capacity and of course the wider community and the impact that has had.”

The force is now working closely with a full-time behaviour analyst from the National Centre for Policing Excellence to draw up profiles of the offender or offenders.

“Clearly this is a fast-moving inquiry, probably unprecedented, certainly in this county, region and probably the UK,” said Det Ch Supt Gull.

“I cannot exclude anything.”

Despite warnings to stay off the streets, Det Ch Supt Gull said there was still a “small core” of prostitutes in Ipswich who continued to work and he again urged them to stay away.

“I understand there were one or two girls still out last night. We understand largely why prostitutes need to conduct this line of business but it's vulnerable and high-risk.

“Three of this group have been murdered now, potentially another two, clearly it's not safe - they must stay off the streets.”

The police chief urged anyone with information that could assist the investigation to contact them as a matter of urgency.

“Somebody out there knows who this person is. Offenders may be displaying uncharacteristic signs. Clearly, if anyone is concerned about an individual they should get in touch.

“I am not going to make a direct appeal however if the person responsible chooses to contact Suffolk police then I have qualified officers ready to take that call.”

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 0800 0961011 or email . Alternatively call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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